Dynamic exchanges between DOM and POM pools in coastal and inland aquatic ecosystems: A review

Wei He, Meilian Chen, Mark A. Schlautman, Jin Hur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Dynamic exchanges between dissolved organic matter (DOM) and particulate organic matter (POM) plays a critical role in organic carbon cycling in coastal and inland aquatic ecosystems, interactions with aquatic organisms, mobility and bioavailability of pollutants, among many other ecological and geochemical phenomena. Although DOM-POM exchange processes have been widely studied from different aspects, little to no effort has been made to date to provide a comprehensive, mechanistic, and micro-spatial schema for understanding various exchange processes occurring in different aquatic ecosystems in a unified way. The phenomena occurring between DOM and POM were explained here with the homogeneous and heterogeneous mechanisms. In the homogeneous mechanism, the participating components are only organic matter (OM) constituents themselves with aggregation and dissolution involved, whereas OM is associated with other components such as minerals and particulate colloids in the heterogeneous counterpart. Besides the generally concerned processes of aggregation/dissolution and adsorption/desorption, other ecological factors such as sunlight and organisms can also participate in DOM-POM exchanges through altering the chemical nature of OM. Despite the limitation of current analytical technologies, many unknown and/or unquantified processes need to be identified to unravel the complicated exchanges of OM between its dissolved and particulate states. Based on the review of several previous mathematical models, we proposed a unified conceptual model to describe all major dynamic exchange mechanisms on the basis of exergy theory. More knowledge of dynamic DOM-POM exchanges is warranted to overcome the potential problems arising from a simple division of OM into dissolved versus particulate states and to further develop more sophisticated mathematic models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-428
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Aggregation
  • Dissolved organic matter (DOM)
  • Exchange mechanism
  • Exergy
  • Particulate organic matter (POM)


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